A Level Headache

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by nathansmind, May 12, 2010.

  1. nathansmind

    nathansmind Active Member

    Here's the problem: I can't seem to get my volume levels to the same levels as any other mix. I will be working with a mix, and when I have it where I think it should be I will load a song from my itunes to compare, and the volume will be very different (my mix usually being much quieter). Is there a standard volume that everyone aims for?

    This is what I do: I set my pre amps to that things aren't clipping. I usually record guitars and vocals through some condenser microphones. I record them, and adjust levels accordingly so they blend right. Is there something more I need to be looking for, maybe something on my outputs?

    Thanks for you comments. I am rather novice at all recording, but I have a passion for it.
  2. TrilliumSound

    TrilliumSound Active Member

    Your level is less loud than the ones you compare with because they are probably already Mastered, this is normal. Don't bother about volume with your mixes, just make them sound as good as you can and get them Mastered and if possible, your Mastering Engineer will match them up if possible.


  3. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    It is important to keep an eye on the input levels and avoid any clipping and the resulting distortions, like you do. But to get a louder mix you need some more gadgets .
    For example you need a (stereo-) compressor and limiter. I want to emphasize that I am completely against this ongoing loudness war with its ridicoules compression ratios and killed dynamics. But to obtain a certain pressure and punch, and to utilize the maximal levels you won't get around those devices or plugins.
    In professional commercial productions there are sometimes dozens of effects and dynamic controlling devices working their behind off.
    It is also advisabel to use a mildly set compressor during the initial recording, already. It helps to keep a certain level without going "over" all that easy. There is so much involved in this incredible job that I suggest that you get yourself some books on it. If you are planing on making this a hobby or maybe even your profession then reading about the tricks of trade is your best way to success. It is sheer impossible to teach you all the variables and possibilities existing for recording and mixing in this thread...
    I guess, you will be very busy... and I tell you what: for me it is the best job in the world!
  4. rick-slo

    rick-slo Active Member

    I assume you are not comparing apples to oranges, e.g. a solo instrument to a band with drums etc. So given that with a meter look at the dynamic range of the itune songs you are talking about and compare that to the dynamic range of your music. Then compress your music to match the dynamic range of the itune songs. Then bring up the volume of your music until it sounds as loud as the itune music. If you still like the sound of your music (the life has not be compressed out of it) then you are good to go. :smile:
  5. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    @ Rick
    There is dynamic left in i-tune songs?...lol
    Maybe you can help him out and tell him how a compressor works, too.

    It ain't quite as easy, if you want to make it sound good, as well, Nate.
  6. nathansmind

    nathansmind Active Member

    Thanks for the comments. I will play around with things.

    Big K, You mentioned that I should read up on mastering. I have read a few books, but the have been pretty basic, and mostly how to use DAWs. What books would you suggest that would help me get to the next level?
  7. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    I can't be of help, here. I have my studio and record company in Munich, Germany.
    Therefore, I am not up-to-date with the current books in the states...
    But there will surely be a member who can help out.

    I would call the job "finalizing" not mastering. Mastering is such a complex work that even knowlegeable
    recording & mixing engineers send their works to Mastering Engineers who usually own a range of spcecialized tools for the task,
    not seldomly worth the equivalent of an appartment....

    Can you try to get an internship in a studio? You'll learn a lot of things there and you might find some colleagues you can ask, even after the job.

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